Schools and Deliberative Democracy Revisited: Theorizing Deliberative Capacity of Schools as the Mediating Institutions

Stream: Panel 57 - Human Rights & Democracy: Deliberative Democracy
Date: Tuesday, 27 September 2016
Time: 4.00 pm – 5.30 pm


This paper aims to reconsider the role of schools in deliberative democracy with particular focus on their functions in the deliberative system. Most literature that considers the relationship between deliberative democracy and schools describes schools as seedbeds for educating children so that they can prepare to be competent and fully-skilled citizens in the “future” democracy. Although this understanding of schools is true to some degree, focusing too much on this preparatory aspect could risk of losing sight of children’s “present” deliberative capacities, knowledge, and experiences and their contribution for democratization of society. Drawing on the recent discussion of the deliberative system, this paper will shed light on the “another face” of schools – that is, schools can be one of the vital deliberative spaces for children to act not just as future citizens but rather as the effective agents of deliberation (deliberators) in the deliberative system. Particularly, when paid a special attention to several features of schools from the perspective of the deliberative system (namely, enriched deliberative conditions; various connections with out-of-school settings and activities; inclusiveness), schools can be re-conceptualized as “the mediating institutions.” The mediating institutions here means the spaces whose primary aim is to bridge between children’s everyday experiences and the broader society in ways that encourage children to deliberate and to exert their influences in/beyond the context of schools. The final section of this paper will consider what makes schools as the mediating institutions functions well in today’s society.


Kei Nishiyama (Presenter), University of Canberra
Kei Nishiyama is a new PhD student at the Centre for Deliberative Democracy and Global Governance. His PhD research- under the supervision of Prof John Dryzek and Dr Selen Ercan—investigates the relationship between deliberative democracy and public education with a particular focus on the significance of enhancing the skill of reflective thinking and listening in deliberative systems. Previously, Kei studied philosophy of education at Rikkyo University (Japan) and gained a Bachelor (Arts in Education) and a Master Degree (Pedagogy).